Thursday, 3 April 2014

The things you learn in Holland (about yourself and everyone else)

In the midst of severe procrastination and with a packet of just opened (which means half have already been devoured) Cadbury's chocolate fingers next to me, I am here to chat to you about my (not so recent) journey of self discovery. It's true, the journey ended about two weeks ago but I've been a little busy catching up on the season finale of Pretty Little Liars (oh em gee, am I right?!) and trying not to inhale the large quantity of Milka I bought home for various people I like, to catch you all up to speed on my life. Sadly, my plan to give a load of Milka to my boyfriend in the hope that he'd get the hint and share it with me, horrendously backfired. He took it home still unopened. I wept.

So, the story is this: at the beginning of March, myself and five other Brits packed our bags and headed over to the land of Nether- wait, that sounds wrong; we packed our bags and went to Holland (better), for a two week long international advertising project. Sounds pretty snazzy, right? Sharing a cute little hotel (owned by a fearless Dutch woman whom we loved) with six other European countries, we began plotting our uprising; spent the two weeks working in seven different groups creating fully fledged campaigns for different brands. Most of which we'd never heard of. No sweat.

My first time flying with FlyBe was... interesting. I hadn't been in a propeller plane for some years and having a seat next to the propeller that initially wouldn't start was somewhat unsettling. Still, for a while all I could picture was my mum sitting next to me tutting and comparing every single thing to how British Airways would do it - she's a devote BA flyer so this brightened my mood considerably. To be honest, when we landed in Amsterdam I wasn't truly convinced that we'd left Britain at all because we were faced with, wait for it, rail replacement services. Yes, really. For some time I was marginally convinced that this was just a British conspiracy by the government to piss everyone off but I see now that MI5 do have better things to do than mess with us all and it's a Europe wide problem. So, I forgive you National Rail. For now. 

Finally, nine hours after our expedition began, we arrived in the town of Bergen and our adventure began. And after a dinner of vegetarian lasagna, I knew this trip was going to get wild.

So what exciting Netherlandy wisdom do I have to impart on you? Well, I could write you a book, but I won't, because I'm lazy; but most importantly, if you get taken on a tour of a quaint, historic, serene Dutch town, do not be surprised if you end up in it's red light district unannounced. I still have to rub soap in my eyes to try and remove the images of the things I saw that day. Our tour guide described it as one of the "most popular" streets in Alkmaar. You don't say. 

On most days I felt as though it would be less obvious if I actually walked around holding a sign saying 'tourist', but let's be honest, this is half the fun - I mean, it's not like we get cute rivers and landscapes in England, it's all tower blocks and badly spelt graffiti. True, it adds character, but usually a character with abnormally large private parts. And I can't see Boris jumping to show that at Heathrow. The thrill I got from referring to my friends as 'Team GB' and saying stuff like "I am British" was embarrassingly massive. I tried learning some Dutch but instead all I learnt was that I'm terrible at languages. Still, I once found myself in an in-depth conversation comparing euros and pounds so maybe that counts. 

Things I learnt through this trip:
1. I'd be the worlds worst language teacher. I'm not even sure if I speak English correctly anymore.
2. I may have caused every single person there to think that Brits legitimately use the words 'swag' and 'swaggy' as adjectives...
3. At first I thought dutch boys were really cool. And then I realised that they all look exactly the same and it freaked me out a bit. If you want the new One Direction, you'll find them in Holland.
4. Once you start quoting Bridesmaids with your bestie everyday for two weeks, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop
5. It's true, you never forget how to ride a bike; but you sure will be rusty (and nothing will be funnier than seeing your friend ride into a ditch)
6. I need to be in a country where "bless you", "excuse me" and queuing are actually a thing. The lack of these things made my eyes twitch vigorously.
7. Dutch food is actually pretty good  
8. My sarcasm was probably taken offensively and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them wanted to chase me with a pitchfork
9. Nothing is more upsetting than being surrounded by multi-lingual individuals. I want to bitch in a secret language too!
10. I spent 87% of my time complaining about the Dutch bus system and how ridiculously expensive it is. 
11. At the peak of tiredness I managed to slide out of bed head first, go over my neck and land face up on the floor. And once I punched a shelf.
12. No matter where I go, someone will always pick up on the Potter thing. It almost felt like home.
13. HOLLAND IS SO INSTAGRAMABLE. And their extortionately priced buses come with wifi!
14. Lauren and I had many in depth discussions as to why the country has very few plug sockets. We've still yet to reach a viable answer.
15. And perhaps most importantly; the Europeans know how to get cray and partay

I had the most amazing two weeks; I got to bond with my fellow Team GBer's and took more selfies than I have in my life (I blame you, Lauren). We worked our cute little behinds off during the project and learnt so much. The whole thing was an experience I will never forget and I can sleep easy knowing my mum is not going to disown me because I did bring her back some Gouda. And what trip is complete without the purchase of a 'Netherlands' Starbucks mug?

~ Eleanor xo